Philosophical Conversations Public Opinion Junk for code
parliament house.gif
Think Tanks
Oz Blogs
Economic Blogs
Foreign Policy Blogs
International Blogs
Media Blogs
South Australian Weblogs
Economic Resources
Environment Links
Political Resources
South Australian Links
"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Tony Abbott discovers he's human « Previous | |Next »
March 5, 2003

I see that Tony Abbott, the federal Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, admits that he has made a mistake. In the early 1990s this one nation conservative defended the position taken Geoffrey Blainey and John Howard in the immigration debate. Both had argued that the proportion of Asians as part of Australia's total migrant intake should be reduced and both opposed multiculturalism.

Abbott called for a reduction in Asian immigration, saying that Australia "will be about 10 per cent Asian" by 2005 and stated that the policy of multiculturalism would result in Australia becoming a "pastiche of cultures". Abbott also effectively called for a test for Australian-ness, namely, a society that "studies Shakespeare, follows cricket and honours the Anzacs".

In this Convergence speech Abbott dismissed the need for any test of "Australian-ness"; recognised that "there's hardly an extended family, these days, which doesn't include people of quite different backgrounds and ethnicities"; praised multiculturalism as facilitating this convergence; and declared that "paradoxically, Australia has turned its very diversity into kind of unity".

Wow. The Minister has discovered Hegel---unity in diversity. Very dialectical. This is venturing onto dangerous ground for a senior government Minister. Dialectics is a wild beastie as all the power is in the underground workings of the dynamic negative.

Can we say that Tony Abbott's 'seeing the light' of multiculturalism is an example of one nation conservatism being mugged by reality?

What does that mean for one nation conservatism of the national security state?That the unity bit keeps the diversity bit under control? What if the diversity bit includes Islam, as it does in Australia? Are we repelling them from our borders in the name of national security? Don't we, of the unity faction, reckon that diversity is a cover for terrorist sleeper cells? My judgement is that the unity bit will not embrace diversity to the extent of celebrating Australia as a multi-nation liberal state. The fortress bit of unity will overwhelm the diversity bit.

Now that he has discovered he is a sensitive human being, and not an attack dog machine who savages the unemployed within the protected walls of Parliament, maybe the Minister might dvelp a different comportment. Some advice. He could start by expressing some sympathy for unemployed people, understanding their difficulties they have in reinventing themselves in a globalised world; and remove some of the obstacles the government places in the way of them getting back into the workforce.

Then, as an ex-trainee priest, the Minister could begin to address the social costs of the ongoing economic reforms from a Catholic ethical perspective of Rerum Novarum:On the Condition of the Working Classes of Pope Leo XIII (1891). Since the Minister is busy the Minister he could turn to this blogspot for some suggestions. It would help the Minister to put a bit of backbone into the Howard Government's third term social reform agenda.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:31 PM | | Comments (3)


imho, Tony Abbott has over the last ten years made the psychological shift from being a pom to being a yank. USA culture is clearly polyglot. The lesser races are invaluable in their economic role. The substantial german component of USA mainstream culture leaves it less anglo in identity. It can't be swamped because the elite portion of USA society is firmly entrenched economically and politically. Post Tampa, Oz has confronted the demon of being swamped and come out the other side triumphant. "We will decide ..." Hence Tony's new humanity is nothing more than a recasting of his parochial bigotry to a more USA type over lordship which can accomodate the compliant presence of "others" - especially now that the PC strain of multiculturalism has been pronounced vanquished by the intelligentsia of the "new" right.

I actually was invited to give a paper at the same conference that Abbott made this speech - wish I'd gone now! Would have loved to have heard it live and maybe asked a question or two.

Missed your chance there Tim.